Monday, April 20, 2009

No one told me

On Friday or Saturday night I was flipping through all six of my TV stations when a new show caught my attention on NBC.  I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be heartbreaking, but they showed a social worker picking up an infant boy not much older than Duc and walking away with the intent to place him foster care.  You could tell by the way she held him that she didn’t care for the child—she was just the means to get him from here to there.  And the blond headed baby in the yellow jammies wailed miserably. 

There was something in the plaintiveness of his cry that wrenched my heart in a way I didn’t expect.  Perhaps because I have heard that cry out of the mouth of my own son and it sends a wave of panic along my nerves down to my hands and feet.  I can’t be still when I hear that cry and hearing that sound forced me into hurried motion.  Although Duc has not been sleeping well for a few nights I needed to see him.  To hear his breath and feel the heat come off his skin.  To know that he was okay.

No one told me that the moment you become a mother changes not just how you feel or how you look at life, but the very fibers that knits you together as a person.   Your wants and desires are second to that of your child and you are happy for it.  That child, your child, becomes so entwined with your own DNA that you respond to your child’s needs without thinking.  It is an amazing thing and something so ingrained in us as women that even the passing of the millennia has not evolved us past sacrificing ourselves for our children.  For somewhere deep within us we know that we can’t survive without our children—not as a civilization, not as mothers.

I expected that being a mother would change me.  What I didn’t know is how many ways it would change me.   I didn’t become a mother the moment I picked him up out of his crib in Vietnam.  I didn’t feel any different in that moment—no choir of angels singing, time did not slow down—I didn’t notice this until hours later.  I became a mother sometime in the two years previously.  I don’t know if it happened when I placed my pen to paper the first time I signed my name to a contract or when I signed the binding agreement accepting him as family during our Giving & Receiving ceremony. 

What I do know is that by the time we finally did become mother and son he had already changed me.  It was marvelous to watch.  My body would respond to him long before my brain heard and processed his cry.  Even from the first night my hand would seek him out any time I heard him whimper or cry.  And while I have been blessed with a lifetime of deep sleeps, even now, in the darkest part of the night I am aware of him.  Many nights I don’t awaken when he stirs, but on some level, I am always aware of him.

The week before last we were all three in Dallas—my son, my mother and me.  Duc and I were both sick.  Besides the extreme fatigue and achiness, coughing and congestion hit us both.  Even in the depth of my exhaustion fueled sleep my body reacted to every cough, every sniffle.  I don’t remember most of it, but my mother, the light sleeper told me that every time he began to cough I would stop and hold my breath.  The second he resumed breathing I would finally exhale.  Knowing that gave me a strange sense of peace.  It settled me to know that even when I am not in the same room with him or fully aware of him, I am able to stretch beyond my subconscious state and respond to him. 

No, no one told me that when I would hear a baby cry, any baby cry, that my heart would begin to race and my eyes would seek out those of my child.  No, no one told me to be aware of the crying baby in the yellow pajamas. 

Then  IMG_0979-2    

Now041_edited-2

5 comments:

MotherMotherOcean April 21, 2009 at 7:07 AM  

I often mention this to new mothers. They tell you that your life will change, but they do not tell you how.

My life has changed in so many ways. I cannot even pee alone anymore :)

kris April 21, 2009 at 2:19 PM  

...speechless...

thank you.

Cinnamon April 21, 2009 at 4:18 PM  

So true, so true.

Katherine, aka katedrew94 April 21, 2009 at 4:54 PM  

Beautifully said! And totally true!

Kelli April 21, 2009 at 6:28 PM  

Very well said- check my blog later tonight, I am nominating some people for blog awards and of course you're a winner!

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About This Blog

This started as my story, but has evolved to OUR story. This is the story of life as a single parent to a wonderful little boy while we wait for baby sister. China LID 2.12.07.


But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, be patient! For it will surely take place. It will not be late by a single day.
Habakkuk 2:3

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